Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 04

Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 04

The treasurer’s stomach twisted with familiar nausea as he thought about the other reports, the ones Clyntahn hadn’t had time to “adjust.” The ones about the atrocities, the rapes, the murders not simply in the Republic’s communities of expatriate Charisians, but across its length and breadth. The churches burned with priests — even entire congregations — inside them because they carried the taint of “Reformism.” The food stores deliberately burned or contaminated — or outright poisoned — in the teeth of winter. The sabotage of canal locks, despite the Book of Langhorne‘s specific prohibitions, to prevent the western harvests from being transported to the eastern cities. Clyntahn could pass all of those off as “unfortunate excesses,” unintended but unhappily inevitable in the face of Mother Church’s loyal sons’ fully justified and understandable rage, but it had happened too broadly — and far too efficiently — not to have been carefully orchestrated by the same people who’d given the order for the uprisings in the first place.

And just what does Zhaspahr think is going to happen now?

the treasurer asked himself bitterly. Siddarmarkian armies on the Border States’ frontier? A Charisian foothold on the mainland? Charisian weapons and gold pouring into Stohnar’s hands now that those hands have become Mother Church’s mortal enemy? He’s guaranteed all of those things will happen unless, somehow, we can crush the Republic before Charis can come to its rescue! If he had to do this — if he simply had to unleash this bloodshed and barbarity — couldn’t he at least have done iteffectively?

And then there was the devastating financial consequence of the effective destruction of one of the only three mainland realms which had actually been managing to pay their tithes. How did Clyntahn expect the Treasury to magically conjure the needed funds out of thin air when the Inquisition was systematically destroying them at the source?

But I can’t say that, can I? Not with Zahmsyn folding up like a pricked bladder and Allayn nodding in what has to be at least half-genuine agreement. And even if I said it, it wouldn’t make one damned bit of difference, because the blood’s already been spilled and the damage’s already been done. The best I can hope for is to find some way to mitigate at least the worst of the consequences. And maybe, just maybe, if this works out the way it could, then

He chopped that thought off, scarcely daring to voice it even to himself, and made himself admit the gall-bitter truth. However disastrous this might prove in the long term, in the short term it actually bolstered Clyntahn’s power. The dispatches coming in from Desnair, the Border States, the Temple Lands, even — especially! — the Harchong Empire made that clear. The vision of Siddarmark collapsing into ruin was terrifying enough to any mainland ruler; the mere possibility of Siddarmark becoming a portal for Charisian invasion was even worse. Those rulers didn’t care at this point whether Stohnar had truly been planning to betray them as Clyntahn claimed. Not anymore. What mattered now was that Stohnar had no choice but to betray them if he wanted his nation to survive . . . and that every one of them scented the chance to scavenge his own pound or two of flesh from the Republic’s ravaged carcass. And with the hysteria in Siddarmark — the atrocities against Mother Church which Clyntahn’s atrocities were bound to provoke — the schism would be driven even deeper into the Church’s heart, which was exactly what Clyntahn wanted. He wanted the polarization, the fear, the hatred, because that was what would give him the power to destroy his enemies forever and make Mother Church over into his own image of what she was supposed to be.

“I have to agree with Zhaspahr,” Maigwair said. Duchairn eyed him with cold contempt, and the captain general flushed. “I’m not in a position to comment on or second-guess the Inquisition’s reports,” he went on defensively, “but the reports coming to me from Guardsmen in the Republic confirm that there really were a lot more muskets — almost certainly rifled muskets — in Siddar City than there ought to’ve been. Somebody was obviously stockpiling them. And it’s certainly fortunate” — his eyes cut sideways towards the Grand Inquisitor for just a moment — “that we’ll have had time to get the Guard fully recruited up to strength and equipped with more of the new muskets by the time the snow melts. At least half of them will be rifled, as well, and I understand” — this time he looked squarely at Clyntahn — “that your agents have managed to ferret out some of the information we most desperately need.”

“The Inquisition has come into possession of quite a bit of information on the heretics’ weapons,” Clyntahn acknowledged. “We’re still in the process of determining what portions of that knowledge we may safely use without encroaching upon the Proscriptions, but I believe we’ve found ways to duplicate many of their weapons without dabbling in the demonic inspiration which led the blasphemers to them.”

He looked admirably grave, Duchairn thought bitterly. Every inch the thoughtful Inquisitor General truly finding ways to guard Mother Church against contamination rather than planning how he would justify anything that needed justifying.

“We’ve discovered how they make their round shot explode,” he continued, “and I have a pair of trusted ironmasters devising a way to duplicate the effect. It’s not simply a matter of making them hollow, and finding a way to accomplish it without resorting to proscribed knowledge has been tricky. There’s also the matter of how you detonate the ‘shells,’ as the heretics call them. It requires a carefully compounded form of gunpowder to make the ‘fuses’ function reliably. Fortunately, one of Mother Church’s most loyal sons managed to obtain that information for her — obtain it at the cost of his own life, I might add — and we should be able to begin making our own fuses within a month or two. By spring, you should have field artillery with its own exploding shells, Allayn.”

The Inquisitor smiled benignly as Maigwair’s eyes lit, and Duchairn closed his own eyes in despair. Maigwair had been in an understandable state of near panic ever since the Charisians had unveiled the existence of their exploding round shot. The possibility that he’d finally be able to put the same weapons into the hands of his own far more numerous troops had to come like a reprieve from a death sentence. He’d gladly overlook the deaths of a few hundred thousand — or even a few million — innocent Siddarmarkians if the outcome offered him an opportunity to equalize the difference between Mother Church’s combat capabilities and those of her enemies.

Especially when the possibility of a military success in the field will probably keep him out of the Inquisition’s sights, as well

, Duchairn thought bitterly.

He drew a deep, deep breath, then straightened and opened his eyes once more. It was his turn to look across the table at Clyntahn, and he saw something cold and pleased glittering in the other man’s eyes.

“I can’t argue with you or Allayn about where we are now, however we got there, Zhaspahr,” he made himself say. “I agree it’s profoundly regrettable the situation should’ve erupted so suddenly and uncontrollably. I’m deeply concerned, however, about reports of starvation — starvation among Mother Church’s loyal children, as well as the heretics. I think it will be essential for us to give priority to moving food supplies into the areas controlled by her faithful sons. I realize there will probably be some conflict between purely military and humanitarian transport needs, but we’ll have until the snow melts to make plans. I fear” — he met Clyntahn’s gaze levelly — “that we’ll lose far too many lives to starvation, cold, disease, and privation before spring, but it’s essential Mother Church show her concern for those faithful to her. That’s no more than her children deserve . . . and the very least they will expect out of us as her vicars.”

Their gazes locked, and Duchairn knew it was there between them. Knew Clyntahn recognized that this was a point from which he would not retreat. He saw the familiar contempt for his own weakness, his own softness, in the Grand Inquisitor’s eyes, saw the disdain in the twist of Clyntahn’s lips at how cheaply he could buy Duchairn’s compliance — his assumption of complicity, for that was what it would amount to. Yet it was the best bargain the treasurer could hope for at this table, in this conference room, and both of them knew that, too.

Silence hovered for a moment, and then Clyntahn nodded.

“Of course they’ll expect it from us, Rhobair.” He smiled thinly. “And you’re the perfect choice to organize it for us.”

“Thank you, Zhaspahr,” Duchairn said as Trynair and Maigwair murmured their agreement. “I’ll try to cause the least dislocation possible in purely military movements.”

He returned Clyntahn’s smile with one of his own while black murder boiled in his heart. But more than simple hatred simmered at his core. He sat back in his chair, listening to Clyntahn and Maigwair discussing the new weapons in greater detail, and his eyes were cold as he contemplated the future. It was astounding, really. Zhaspahr Clyntahn understood plots, cabals, treachery and treason. He understood lies and threats, recognized the power of terror and the sweet taste of destroying his enemies. He knew all about the iron rod, how to break the bones of his foes. Yet for all his power and his ambition and ruthless drive, he was utterly blind to the deadly power of gentleness.

Not yet, Zhaspahr

, he thought softly. Not yet. But one of these days, you may just discover that the hard way. And if God is good, He’ll let me live at least long enough to see you do it.


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48 Responses to Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 04

  1. tootall says:

    “deadly power of gentleness” What, The fluffy pillow?

  2. PeterZ says:

    Methinks he means the fruits of gentleness. Love, freindship and the people that are motivated through those things. Major (Colonel now?) Phandys et al may be one case in point. Anzhelique could well be another case in point. The Zion poor he has been feeding and providing the means of surviving the frigid winters. The network of priests ministering to the needy spread all over Zion and the realms. Rohbair’s network and connections are not insignificant.

  3. Adam says:

    More like the internal fortitude to stand up with like minded souls and do what is right.

  4. Peter S says:

    Power does not just flow out of the barrel of a gun, it flows from people’s minds and hearts. Move down the pyramid of any power structure and the personal interconnections of the broadening population in each tier increase faster than the numbers. Who has relatives in Siddarmark, in the slums of Zion? Who has friends? Who has trusted relationships? Clyntahn is trampling on personal interconnections with an astounding carelessness, counting on fear to beat down the host of resentments he is sowing. That is an ever-more-risky proposition as he tears at more and more interconnections. So long as he does everything well enough to keep people both afraid and hopeful, he can probably get away with it. But eventually he’s going to make a bad mistake and suffer a big reverse – and then it’ll be like a crystal dropped in a saturated solution; the hate will overcome the fear and a whole lot of inquisitors will die, suddenly, leaving him bereft of part of the tools upon which his power rests. If it’s _enough_ of a loss (frex, if Desnair turns and slaughters every inquisitor they can get their hands on) then it’ll be a mortal blow to his power. Once the stain of ‘failure’ attaches to him, everybody will be only too happy to see him gone – including Rayno. In terror-based states like this one, succession is often accomplished through eliminating one’s predecessor….

  5. Nimitz13 says:

    As expected, the CoGA will soon have exploding shells, so taking out Thirsk just became much less of a cakewalk. It also guts the Charisian advantage on the seas, as even small frigates can now do fatal damage to Charisian warships. Charis can still win NOW, but the butcher’s bill just went WAY up, and Merlin will know that in advance.

    Since Charis will be so busy ferrying food, troops, and arms to Siddarmark, an attack on Gorath Bay to eliminate Thirsk’s fleet is unlikely in this book. That will have to wait a couple of years until Charis builds iron/steel armored ships driven by either sail or steam. Unfortunately, Thirsk’s fleet isn’t going away until then.

    The CoGA is in NO position production-wise to create the amount of iron plate necessary to protect a ship from shells. It is also years behind in the creation of steam engines, and that gap will continually get worse as Charis refines and improves its steam technology.

    The current detente with both sides having shells and wooden hulls will be short-lived, so ideally Thirsk would take advantage of it to engage in shore raids and attacking the Charisian convoys headed for Siddarmark – which would give us some nice sea battles with the convoy’s escorts. Since this would leave Gorath Bay relatively unprotected, Thirsk is likely to be stuck with escort duty for the countless thousands of troops headed for Siddarmark from Harchong, Desnair, and Dohlar. (So Charis ought to go sink a few convoys and pick off Thirsk’s fleet a few ships at a time.)

    We get the first indication here that the wide array of locks built along Siddarmark’s rivers has been damaged, which is going to hurt the logistics of the invading CoGA troops from Dohlar, the border states, and the temple lands a great deal. Harchong is so distant any troops on foot may not arrive in this book and Desnair ground troops would have to go through Silkiah, which wouldn’t like that, pays tithes, and has a big, FRIENDLY port! (Although it may be so cowed by the Sword of Scheuler that it will grant passage.)

    The broken locks buy time for Charis to arm and feed the loyal Siddarmakan provinces, and should enable the combined forces of Siddarmark, the ICA, and the ICM to stop the invaders short of Siddar City. (Think Moscow for Napoleon and Hitler.) I’d expect at least one major land battle in this book, with numerous smaller skirmishes to capture/destroy the locks on the rivers and thus control/eliminate the corridors of invasion the CoGA needs.

    Which should be great fun to read (if not to experience first-hand!) so perhaps the future of Siddarmark isn’t all that BLEEK!

  6. tootall says:

    #5 Still bleeking funny-thanks

  7. Jeff Ehlers says:

    Re: mercy

    Loyalty is not won by terror. It cannot be won by terror. The most one can get from terror is obedience, and sometimes not even then. If you stand behind someone with a whip, you’ll usually get people to obey, but you’ll also give them reason to hate you, and to seek to do you harm (if only by staying within the strictest letter of your orders). In other words, you end up wasting much of your efforts in order to keep other people in line.

    No, loyalty is won by mercy and its cousin, empathy. That’s probably something that Clyntahn can’t understand. He’s satisfied with Frederick the Great’s maxim of having soldiers be more terrified of their officers than they are of the enemy, but that only works as long as the enemy remains a threatening unknown. The moment Charis sends succor to Siddamark, it’ll start seriously undermining Clyntahn’s power, because it won’t be a matter of heretics who will kill you versus the Inquisition who will torture then kill you, it’ll be a matter of “heretics” who won’t kill you if they can avoid it, and who’ll help you if they can.

    Clyntahn, apparently not happy with turning all the neutrals into enemies, is now working on turning his allies into neutrals. And it’ll come back to hurt him before long.

  8. PeterZ says:

    @5 So, Nimitz13, since the ICN don’t have the capacity toplat all their ships, will they deploy the rifled canon with exploding shells? If one can’t protect one’s ship from exploding shells penetrating, stay well out of reach. Rifled angle canons to bobard the forts on shore and the rifled canon on the ICN galleons/frigates to fire on enemy galleons. All done beyond smoothbore range.

    Will the ICN take that route? Will they deploy rifled field pieces in Siddermark?

  9. JeffM says:

    “The deadly power of gentleness”. In other words (if nothing else), when Clyntahn trots Duchairn out to the Temple steps to torture him as a heretic, the mob who respects Duchairn storms the Temple and rends Clyntahn limb from limb.

  10. Ed T. says:

    Remember, too, that Thirsk may try to leave the service of the Church. If Merlin gets wind of any such attempt he may be able to provide material assistance.

  11. JeffM says:

    @10–my impression from the last book wasn’t that Thirsk was so much going to “leave the service of the Church”, but once his family was safely away, to find some way to sabotage (no, no–there’s no reef there!)or surrender the fleet he commands…which effectively would count as “leaving the service of the Church”. :D

  12. Rod says:

    I don’t think Thirsk is likely to defect anytime soon. After all he got an explicit offer to do just that from King Gorjah in the first or second book if I remember correctly. I don’t say it’s impossible for Clyntahn and his inquisitors to do something heinous enough to drive him away, but I suspect it would have to be something much closer to home to do that, ie them making impossible demands and creating such a hostile working enviornment that he has no chance to accomplish anything but is forced to leave or die. I think the campaign in Siddarmark will take up most of this book. After all, clearly Nynian still has a number of tricks up her sleeve and Stohnar doesn’t strike me as one to take little things like a civil war instigated by outside and inimical forces lightly. We start to see what the G04 intends to do to keep the pressure on them, but we have yet to see what the ‘good guys’ will try to counter it. Still sounds like fun times ahead, well for we the readers at least.

  13. arrrgh says:

    I still don’t see why Merlin can’t take out lots of enemy ships in storms. Ships with gunpowder weapons. One laser into the magazine and boom, no survivors. In the real world, entire fleets sank in storms, or at least big parts of them. Especially ships with brand new ‘experimental’ weapons. Even if the bad guys knew their ships blew up occasionally, it would be easy to blame the new tech.

    The same goes for battles, one laser and suddenly the enemy would find 20% of their guns blew up when firing…..they would blame sabotage or the new tech, no need to blame demons etc.

  14. ET1swaw says:

    @5 Nimitz13 and @12 Rod: IIRC there is a thread on BaensBar (in Honorverse I believe) that discusses the Siddarmark logistics vis-a-vis canals and population. AFAIK significant ameleorization of Siddarmark starvation by the Charis Empire is not physically possible.
    And with the additional CoGA deployment of exploding-shell/rifled musket technology, Clyntahn IMO has basically knowingly condemned Siddarmark native (both reformed/Church-of-Charis AND Temple Loyalist) to starvation amidst a reign of Terror.
    Duchairn is realizing this (and that Clyntahn initiated it despite what spin his official documantation holds) and that knowledge is spreading through through the interconnected masses. Even when CoGA forces are retaliated against in kind (as in the earlier snippet), there are seeds planted (probably not very well-nourished against Clyntahn’s self-righteous propaganda, but there).

    @10 Ed T., @11 JeffM, and @12 Rod: Without his currently protective Inquisition Overseer, Thirsk IMO is toast and knows it.
    His King and the royal pets (including Thirk’s immediate superior and a preponderance of his naval peers (by rank only, those that actually have a clue want to pick his brain)) and Clyntahn himself woulld like nothing better than to have the most minutely viable excuse to not only throw him under the bus but would prefer him to go the way of AB Dynnis?sp?.
    After all Clyntahn was robbed of his direct revenge on the Wylsyns?sp? (the brother’s effectively suicided near-painlessly and the family escaped (among quite a few others) and still wants Thirsk to pay for not destroying Charis as he was supposed to in the first place (all of the others in that mission are now a part of the Empire of Charis after all and so out of Clyntahn’s easy reach (he did manage to assassinate Hector and Nahrmann after all though)).


  15. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Arrrgh, Merlin is already feeling guilty about “starting the religious war” and you want him to start murdering people?

  16. Damon says:

    Duchairn is the worst sort of coward. He KNOWS how evil Clyntahn is and has a pretty good idea about how many more people will suffer until Clyntahn finally falls. Why not just sacrifice his life and kill Clyntahn? He has access NOW. Sneak in a weapon and do the deed. Who could possibly be worse than Clyntahn?
    As far as Thirsk and his fleet, with naval officers who have access to the SNARCS and modern commo, a substantial lead in exploding shell production and numbers, NOW is the time to sail a good portion of the ICN into his area and destroy his fleet and ports. Thirsk himself forfeited whatever moral authority he may have had when he turned over his Charisian captives to the church. He is certainly intelligent enough to have understood what that would mean. He’s the same sort of coward as Duchairn and just as motived by personal gain.
    Evil flourishes when (apparently) good men do nothing.

  17. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Damon, while any reasonable person would be afraid of Clytahn and fear the result of a failed attempt on Clytahn, I think you’re a little too hard on Duchairn.

    You say that nobody could be worse? Perhaps, but in many ways Clytahn is not the “disease”. Clytahn would not have been so sucessful within the Inquistion if there were not others who thought the same way as he does. If Clythan “dropped dead” right now, there would be others in the Inquistion to “take up his banner”. Especially when Clythan has likely moved others like him into important positions within the Inquistion.

    As for Thirsk, none of us have been in such a position. Remember, that if he openly turned against the Temple, his family would suffer as well. It’s one thing to take action that you know will bring the risk of harm to yourself but another thing if your actions will bring the risk of harm to those you love.

    “Just as motivated by personal gain”? That’s a very strange statement. There’s a big difference between “fearing harm to yourself and those you love” and “going along with evil because you’ll get greatly rewarded”.

  18. Damon says:

    Hi Drak, thanks for the counterpoints.

    I suppose that it is possible that the “Hitler being replaced by Heydrich” argument might be true if Duchairn managed to pull off a successful suicide attack on Clyntahn. At the very least a significant shake up would take place in the church, giving Charis and their allies breathing space and time. Given the access to modern tech and Nimue I think that time is not the friend of the church. I still think that if Duchairn accomplished killing Clyntahn it would produce the greater good (at least in this fictional universe).
    As far as motivated by personal gain, both Duchairn and Thirsk find themselves in their current positions because both have spent significant time and effort trying to rise in the world so that they could enjoy the benefits of the fame and prestige of those positions.
    When competent men do the devil’s work, like Albert Speer, are they any less culpable? Yes, Thirsk has the threat of harm being done to his family hanging over him, but only because he has made himself useful to the church. Be a better man, accept a lessor role, stop being useful to evil. But neither he or Duchairn can allow themselves to let go of their hard earned honors, whatever their current motivation.

  19. PeterZ says:

    What is more evil, supporting an ugly system that tries to ensure God’s stated plan of a worldwide unified church or supporting a more attractive system that will destroy God’s plan of a unified worldwide church?

    We the reader know the unified worldwide church is so much bunk. Ducharin and Thirsk don’t. They believe in the CoGA as the sine qua non of God’s will. To their way of thinking, as the CoGA dies or is divided so does God’s will for Safehold die or is diminished. What evil does that represent? The issues they face is nohere near as straight forward as you depict.

  20. Damon says:

    Hi PeterZ,

    Duchairn has been sitting in virtually every important meeting where the course of this conflict has been guided on the aggressor side. He has finally come to the conclusion that the only way he can resist Clyntahn is to do good works.
    Thirsk was a party to the first attempt to invade, rape and pillage Charis and his only real quibble then was that a politically connected hack with a better pedigree than he had was put in charge over him.
    It appears from the religious discussions of the COGA that Holy Writ has ample room for finding reasons to disagree with the actions taken by the church.
    I think the issues ARE straight forward. Giving up what they have and taking action is just hard.
    And as the old hooker used to say, a hard man is good to find.

  21. PeterZ says:

    Hello Damon,

    I’ll ask one question, well two really. Suppose that you KNEW killing 1 million innocents now would secure Heaven/Paradise in the afterlife and in this life for every following generation forever. Would you kill those million people if you knew you would damn yourself in the doing? Would you kill yourself if you knew you wouldn’t be damned?

  22. PeterZ says:

    Sorry that second question should read…Would you kill those people if you knew you wouldn’t be damned?

  23. tootall says:

    One has to believe that Duchairn is plotting.

    Cowardice- moral courage

    They –GoF, Thrisk, Nahrmann– all of them got into this as business as usual. And THEN Clytahn turned into the nightmare. All of em just went along, now “the good the bad and the ugly” are caught in their previous loyalities, and it’s really difficult to turn your back on your oaths if you’re an honorable man-ie Thrisk. As he said, “I swore an oath to my king.”
    (Cayleb said- “You need a better king.”)

    Yeah… and the point is, Thrist takes his oaths seriously, EVEN if his king fails him. And there are many temple loyalists who are caught in just that bind. (Duchairn has already made his decision to do something. And he’s I think doing it-we just don’t know what)

    The moral courage required to disobey an order is unbelievable, not the LEAST penality is that your superiors will kill you if they can catch you. So unless you’ve been there….

  24. PeterZ says:

    The rerason I asked these questions is that if Thirsk and Ducharin see the situation this way, they aren’t evil nor are they doing nothing. They are simply mistaked and doing the best they can in their mistaken beliefs. Ducharin sees the CoGA as essential and any solution involves the CoGA remaining whole and dominant. He is stuck between the rock and the hard place walking the tightrope of eliminating evil without destroying his church. If he kills Clyntahn after the purges Clyntahn initiated, they coGA may devolve into civil war. That would be akin to the time of Shan-wei’s rebellion where the church fought for decades to secure its dominance.

    He is neither a coward nor amoral/immoral for not wanting usher the devil back into the world after the archangels banished her at the dawn of time.

  25. Damon says:

    Hi PeterZ,

    I hope I never believe in a god who made killing a million innocent people the necessary pre condition to allow everyone else to enjoy Paradise now and forever in the future.
    I assume that the god in question would have been willing to answer enough questions so that I KNEW it was true.
    So if I was one of those innocents and KNEW that my death would help bring on Paradise for all of my relatives (who weren’t killed with me) and descendents, would I allow myself to be killed? Yes, I think so.
    I guess I would have to ask what you mean by KNEW. With a moral certainty and absolute, verifiable knowledge that it was true? If that is the case, what difference does it make if you can do it with or without personal consequence? Isn’t it your moral obligation to kill them?

    If this example is intended to show the moral ambiguity of Duchairn or Thirsk, I don’t believe either of them has sufficient proof of godly approval to countenance their actions. It doesn’t necessarily follow that killing Clyntahn would bring the destruction of the CoGA.

    Is this fun or what?

  26. PeterZ says:

    It is actually, Damon. I mean morally certain. I suppose I may also assert absolute certainty, but that would take the discussion beyond anything Ducharisn and Thirsk face in the story.

    It may not follow that killing Clyntahn will mean the destruction of the CoGA. However, not addressing the separatist movement will mean the CoGA is destroyed as God’s unified church. So, how would Ducharin fight an asymetrical war? He can’t get to Charis without a navy. Every single time they have tried to fight Charis on the high seas, they have lost. Killing Clyntahn won’t change the need to defeat Charis. Killing Clyntahn will make the remaining G4 members much less effective at posecuting the war.

    So although my examples are ectreme, they posit how our two antagonists may be thinking. Again, they are wrong, but they may be morally certain that they are not. Certain enough to act on their beliefs.

  27. ET1swaw says:

    IMO Duchairn is a True Believer (in the God-proclaimed rightness of a single universal Church as proclaimed (and protected from the schism of Shan Wei’s EVIL) by the Archangels at the genesis of Safehold) and Thirsk is a man bound by HONOR (allegiance to his King and total support of his Church (no matter what they call on him to do; even those contrary to every humanistic/humanitarian feeling he has !!!!)).
    Their moral certainty is anchored by their faith/beliefs and the additional danger imposed by Clyntahn’s Reign of Terror tactics is not IMO a major deciding factor.
    In their eyes both the schismatic Church of Charis and Clyntahn’s warping of CoGA doctrine (and it is not really that big a bend in the rules of their lives) are both evils with Clyntahn and his antics being much much the lesser!!

    And do not forget: with the exception of Merlin/Nimue and the inner circle at Saint Jehromes?sp?, NO ONE on Safehold is aware that their entire worldview and original spirituality was perpertrated as a fraud!!
    That the Reformers (who are clueless to that massive paradign shift) and the Church of Charis (with whom the inner circle has managed to instill most of the best of CoGA and pre-CoGA concepts without revealing the shattering paradign shift) have managed a breakaway (comparable to that of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc. in our timeline/history) from the originally designed/imposed religious straitjacket is to me quite remarkable.
    Do not forget: there is massive documentation and writ supporting CoGA as a single universal church present from the beginning of recorded time and declaring any deviation as the ‘Path of Shan Wei’ (not as a civil war between differing philosophies (as it was) but as God’s Warrior’s against the minions of EVIL and fallen angels seduced by Shan Wei to her evil ways).


  28. JeffM says:

    Toil &Trib Thoughts
    Just a few thoughts…composed offline. Will read addt’l comments above later!

    A. @Nimitz13—I think that you suffer from a misapprehension as to the use of the canals. Such waterways are used for BULK commodities, which travel at essentially a walking pace. As even field artillery is animal drawn, the sabotage of canal locks will be irrelevant to Temple Guard movements.

    For that matter, “sabotaging canal locks” is kind of interesting—since all that you really have to do in that case is portage around the lock to a different barge.

    (I grew up along the Mississippi in sight of one of the lock and dams)

    Further, I think that we should remember the difficulty that Charis, with much better technology, had putting exploding shells into full production. So, while Clyntahn may have told Maigwar that he would have exploding shells for his field artillery by Spring, but he didn’t say there would be a lot of it. He also didn’t say anything about Naval artillery getting exploding shells.

    I’ll also note that Duchairn is correct about how Clyntahn is shooting himself in the foot in the long term. His actions have enabled the Charisians since Day One. Indeed, in making Duchairn an enemy, he is also ensuring future failure. We see hints of it here. First, this passage:

    “The best I can hope for is to find some way to mitigate at least the worst of the consequences. And maybe, just maybe, if this works out the way it could, then–He chopped that thought off, scarcely daring to voice it even to himself…”

    …suggests to me that when “Siddarmarkian armies on the Border States’ frontier/A Charisian foothold on the mainland/Charisian weapons and gold pouring into Stohnar’s hands now that those hands have become Mother Church’s mortal enemy” all occur, that Duchairn plans to be of assistance to the Charisians—stabbing Clyntahn in the back as hard and effectively as possible.

    Then, hard as it may be to believe, Clyntahn does THIS:
    “I think it will be essential for us to give priority to moving food supplies into the areas controlled by her faithful sons. I realize there will probably be some conflict between purely military and humanitarian transport needs, but we’ll have until the snow melts to make plans.

    “Of course they’ll expect it from us, Rhobair.” He smiled thinly. “And you’re the perfect choice to organize it for us.”

    “Thank you, Zhaspahr,” Duchairn said as Trynair and Maigwair murmured their agreement. “I’ll try to cause the least dislocation possible in purely military movements.”
    (koff, koff!) Now, *ahem* if you don’t mind my asking, how do you suppose that Duchairn is going to “organize this”, including “giving priority to humanitarian efforts”, while “causing the least dislocation possible to purely military movements”—unless he HAS copies of those military movements?

    Further, once Duchairn has them, what do you suppose the odds are that the succeeding military movements won’t somehow find their way into the hands of Siddarmakians/Charisians? Say, right along the bills of lading for a shipment of food and clothing?

  29. JeffM says:

    @16&17, Damon and Drak…

    Perhaps I read a different book than anyone else. It was clear to me that the passage he was shown by his priest clearly said that sometime when it is necessary to take action, that you move your family to safety first. Clearly the naval priest (his friend) expects Thirst to take some radical action against the GoF which has betrayed Thirsk’s honor and all of his beliefs–and the priest was warning him to follow that passage of their teachings.

    As far as Duchairn–as mentioned above, I expect him to be an immense asset to Merlin.

  30. ET1swaw says:

    @28 JeffM: I still don’t see Duchairn going over to either the schismatic Reformers or the Church of Charis in any fashion. IMO he is still attempting to revive the single universal Church (CoGA) that God and his Archangels have decreed. Remember there has never been any alternate religions in all fo recorded history (other than Shan Wei’s descent into EVIL) and his faith is anchored that God has declared there never will be. At most I see him attempting reform and a lessening of Clyntahn’s current warping of doctrine. Anything other than a single universal church is anathema to him IMO. Even the Wylsins?sp? and the Circle were hesitating heavily on allowing the schism between CoGA and the Church of Charis to remain!


  31. Drak Bibliophile says:

    JeffM, IMO that scene wasn’t revelant to my comments to Damon.

    Mind you, I read that scene to be “the Bishop was saying *if* you’re planning something, get your family safe before hand”.

    As for what happens concerning Thirst in this book. Tum, te, tum, te, tum . . . . [Wink]

  32. Terranovan says:

    @27 ET1swaw: Does it ever come out and actually SAY that there isn’t another “Monastery of St. Zhernau’s” somewhere else? In fact, IIRC the book where Merlin/Nimue finds out about the Brethren, he quickly checks the computer records. He then finds out that Zhernau, his wife, and A LOT of other colonists that had been assigned to the Alexandria enclave were (so far as the Archangels knew) assigned to SEVERAL DIFFERENT places on Safehold. Hmmm….:)
    In a more general field; IIRC, one of the last surviving Wyllsynns slipped Duchairn some paper which was later shown in the Wyllsynn’s private musings to have been some mysterious “key”. In the last book – SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! – it was revealed to say that – and I’m paraphrasing the quote a bit – “when someone dedicated to God and his cause placed their hands on a certain altar in the Temple, the power of God would serve the Church in its hour of greatest need.” DUM DUM DUMMMM!!!

  33. NecrosXiaoban says:

    Why can’t Merlin just swim below the waterline and punch through the hulls the CoGA’s shipping? He’s a superhuman PICA, after all.

  34. ET1swaw says:

    @32 Terranovan: You are right that textev supports others with hidden knowledge of pre-CoGA times. And both the Wyllsynns and the qouted textev give access keys that might be Chekov guns (and we all know that MWW never foreshadows :>) ). My point rested on the base that the majority (probably to 99.many 9s%) do not have any conception of a differing religion.

  35. chrisd says:

    Re comment 13.

    IIRC, early in the series, pobably in “Off Armageddon Reef”, Merlin considered assasinating Hektor by self-destructing one or more SNARCs in his ear.
    Owl is constructing SNARCs regularly so placing a few in powder barrels in NoG ship’s magazines would not be a problem and could cause “destruction on demand”, especially on ships carrying experimental weapons.
    He would have to let a fair proportion survive otherwise it might be noticed but this way he could “crimp” some developmemts

  36. Drak Bibliophile says:

    People, you read the second snippet where Merlin is feeling guilty about starting the Religious Wars.

    His guilty feelings are only going to get worse as this story goes on.

    He is *not* going to play Super Assassin unless it is absolutely necessary.

  37. Damon says:

    Merlin has every reason to feel guilty about what is taking shape. As the only “person” with internalized knowledge about what happens during religious wars, the feelings of guilt are pretty much inevitable because of the role Merling has to take in the process.
    That being said, there is still ample room within the Writ to allow a lot more tolerance than is going to be shown.
    Religious schism is always more viscious when it involves attempting to limit the power of the unscrupulous.

    I wonder I RFC has considered how NOT being in a human body may or may not impact Merlin/Nimue’s emotional reactions. While the memory of being human certainly gives Merlin’s decisions an emotional context, having those decisions take place isolated from the chemical soup mix that makes up a human being MUST be having some effect. Emotions have physological effects and vice versa.

  38. hank says:

    @28 RE: Sabatoge of canal locks & military movement. The sabotage *might* not have a significant effect on the movement of the troops but troops need to be fed & supplied. “An army marches on its stomach” and all that. If the CoGA sends an army into Siddermark it will need food, ammunition, replacement gear, etc, etc all of which means they need bulk shipping. It’s called Logistics.

  39. PeterZ says:

    @37 Damon, the PICA body is a plot device to simulate immortality and perhaps one metric on what constitutes life or moral agency. We are asked to assume in OAR that the software and hardware mimic the human condition in all other aspects. Speculating about the adverse impact of transferring a being originating as a chemical based life form into one based on electronics is kind of counter productive.

  40. ET1swaw says:

    @37 Damon: Remember the waterpolo (Charisian Rugby) game in OAR and Nimue/Merlin’s physical/emotional response!

  41. Richard H says:

    @40 ET1saww: The thing I always found interesting about that is that, at the time of the waterpolo game, Merlin was arguably being written as a woman trapped in a man’s body, at least as far as those impulses go. On the other hand, later, Merlin, albeit under another alter-ego, later turns out to be reasonably handy with women as well, leaving him (with an arguably male self-identity, at this point) to wonder whether this was an undiscovered trait of Nimue’s.
    (… and if you’re wondering why I remember this, it’s because I was just reading past it, recently…)

    On the whole, it leaves me wondering if I should just not think too hard about that part. Maybe treat it sort of like Asimov’s positronic brains: they work, and it’s not important how. ;)

  42. ET1swaw says:

    @41 Richard H: I thought he was just flirtatious and didn’t really seal the deal in any of his personas. Then again in OAR IIRC they did mention a prevalence for crossdressing-PICAstyle and Nimue might have been Bi.
    I’ll go with you and just repeat: “it works because it works”.


  43. Drak Bibliophile says:

    ET1swaw, you get offered a girl at a High Class House of Prostitution and don’t have sex with her, it will be commented on.

    Merlin’s alter-ego very obviously was offered a girl and she would have very likely mentioned it later if they didn’t have sex.

    Oh afterwards, Merlin wondered about “himself” after the encounter. His thoughts support the idea that he had sex with the girl.

    Oh, part of the reason he wondered was that Nimue had not been Bi.

    She was only interested in men.

  44. ET1swaw says:

    @43: Thanks Drak!!! It has been a while since I reread OAR and the others.

  45. Nimitz13 says:

    @38 Amen, that’s exactly the point I was trying to make, and you said it perfectly. Also, imagine unloading TONS of foodstuffs/supplies and transferring them (possibly by hand) to a (hopefully available) empty barge – which you’re gonna run out of when you’re shipping food/supplies in only one direction. Plus you need wagons to portage around the broken lock, and you have to HOPE there’s a portage road, wagons, draft animals (which now have to be fed for work they otherwise wouldn’t have to do) and you’re costing the invading armies TIME, which is what the defenders desperately need. I never said sabotaging locks would STOP an army in its tracks, but it will certainly slow it down – and the more ruined locks, the slower the army goes. Plus additional barges stack up behind, waiting for their contents to be portaged, ripe for MORE sabotage. And the MWW has told us this war will be all about logistics.

    Being on one of those work details loading and unloading barges would be BLEEK!

  46. Richard H says:

    @44: To be fair, that part only happens in A Mighty Fortress, which has a lot of other stuff happening, to.

  47. Ken V says:

    @45 Comparison with Napoleon’s invasion of Russia is helpful, since CoGA is likely to find their supply situation to be considerably WORSE than what Napoleon faced. The CoGA armies are starting where all the food is, and they’ll be advancing into areas already hard-hit by the previous winter’s famine. Therefore, the advancing troops aren’t going to be able to forage to supplement the supplies they’re bringing along and will be totally dependent on supplies coming up from the rear. Unloading barges to portage around destroyed locks fast enough to keep the army advancing will soak up manpower at an alarming rate.

    There’s a further problem–the advancing CoGA forces are going to find themselves nearly overwhelmed by Temple loyalists begging for food for their starving families, which will place the command structure firmly on the horns of a dilemma. If the commanders order/allow distribution of food, the army itself will run short of supplies and may even be forced to fall back to keep within their supply radius. On the other hand, if the troops are ordered to refuse to feed refugees (or if the refugees are driven away) morale among the tropps will plummet. The average musketeer or cavalry trooper is emphatically NOT Zhaspahr Clyntahn and will be repelled by orders to let babies and small children starve. Desertion may become a significant problem among the invading armies.

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